ROBOT basketball player throws perfect three-pointers – including a half-court shot – during incredible display at Tokyo Olympics
Team USA was defeated by France at the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday – but, as this video proves, their loss to the underdogs was far from the only topic of conversation.
The Thunder of France was stolen in part by a hoop-shooting robot that surprised viewers with its skills at halftime.
The 6ft 10ins machine – designed by Toyota and named Cue – sank a basket from the free-throw line, hit a three-pointer and even managed to sink one from half-court.
Cue – a basketball-playing robot – stunned crowds at halftime during Sunday’s US v France by shooting baskets using built-in sensors
The robot first hit the target from the free-throw line before turning itself back to the three-point distance using motors in its shoes, before hitting the target again (pictured)
The robot was designed by Toyota and has been around since 2018, although previously it had to sit on a platform that was removed for Sunday’s game.
Predictably, Team USA’s jokes followed.
“The basketball robot needs a place on the list in Team USA with how we play,” wrote Daniel Harrod.
“Team USA basketball could now use this robot on the roster,” added Chris Graham.
While the Tokyo Olympics was the biggest stage for Cue to show off his skills, it’s far from the first time Toyota has shown its mechanical athlete.
One of its first appearances was in 2018, when it was 7 inches shorter than it is today, competing with Arvalq Tokyo – a team in Japan’s top basketball league – in making free throws.
The following year, it reappeared to set a Guinness World Record by throwing 2,020 consecutive free throws without a miss – a nod to the 2020 Games.
The version of Cue that appeared at halftime on Sunday is much improved over previous versions, which were attached to platforms and other platforms that supported the robot and included some of the mechanics.
On Sunday, the version of Cue Toyota rolled out was freestanding and able to move itself around the field using wheels mounted in his shoes – a feat he demonstrated by moving across the field for each of his shots.
Cue even managed to sink a shot from half court, using sensors in the chest and 3D map technology to locate the basket and make the throw
Algorithms built into Cue and trained with hundreds of thousands of practice shots calculate the exact right angle and amount of force needed to get the shot
Cue waves to the crowd after making all three shots during halftime of Sunday’s game between Team USA and France
The robot delivers its feat by using an array of sensors, 3D mapping technology and algorithms to figure out where the basket is and align its shot.
He then adjusts the motors in his arms and legs to create the perfect angle and apply just the right amount of force to get the shot.
While the hoop-shooting robot has proven to be a crowd pleaser, the designers say it helped them understand how to build robots that can accurately mimic human movement, which has multiple practical uses.
Such robots could eventually do heavy work that is difficult for humans, such as picking crops, making deliveries and working in factories.
Designers say Cue’s name is a nod to these practical implications — a reflection of the idea that the technology can serve as a guideline, or signal of great things to come.
It’s far from the only robot Toyota has worked on, having previously shown a robot that can play the violin.
Toyota’s rival Honda has Asimo, a culmination of research into creating a walking robot that began in the 1980s.
In addition to running, he can recognize faces, avoid obstacles, shake hands, pour a drink and carry a tray.